After passing a few lovely, relaxing days in Morro Bay we headed towards Point Conception and ultimately the Channel Islands. Plenty of wind, but also plenty of roll. Can’t seem to shake the big swells that seem to be following us.
Arriving in San Miguel, the most northern island, at sunrise, we were escorted in to the island chain by porpoising pinnipeds that seemed to have surrounded us. The Channel Islands are breeding grounds for 5 types of seals and the waters are full of them. San Miguel is a dramatic island with steep rock bluffs, but the cove we anchored in had beautiful white sand beaches and dunes that just called to us. Unfortunately, as we approached, we saw huge signs that stated that the beaches were closed due to some park service research project. We were somewhat disappointed, but fortunately we were able to snorkel the kelp forests and that proved to be an acceptable substitute for the boys. The boys came back cold, but very excited about kelp crabs, harbor seals and their first ray sighting!
We later moved east to Santa Cruz Island which is owned by the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy. It is a pretty rough coast and there are very few places to tuck in and even fewer in the west wind we were experiencing. After passing several anchorages by, we chose Frye’s cove, a small inlet, and we lowered a bow and stern anchor to keep us pointed into the rolls. Mike took the boys by dinghy to the Painted Cave, a large cathedral cave that on the most perfect conditions a small sailboat could pass. Because of the swell it was far from perfect conditions and not more than 20 or 30 feet in the cave they noticed all the seals were leaving. Taking their cue, they decided it was just too rough to explore the cave. Disappointed they returned to the boat and instead donned snorkeling gear and explored the waters around the small cove. Several smaller caves were found and we could dinghy in them and explore. The rolling surge created a growling sound from the back of the caves.....very eerie! In a full wet suit I got in the water (outside of the caves) and we saw Giant Garibaldi, the state fish, abalone, starfish, urchins and a host of other intertidal dwellers. We were able to get a very sought after landing permit from the Nature Conservancy to land and explored the intertidal as well. In the morning Kena and I took the kayak down the coast. We followed the steep cliffs, gliding through the cobalt waters, and watched diving pelicans and other birds hunting along the water edge. On occasion a sea-lion or harbor seal surfaced next to us, exhaled loudly giving me a little heart attack each time! I wonder what the silhouette of a kayak looks like to a hungry shark?
During the night our stern anchor webbing parted. In the morning we woke to a washing machine of swirling white water and a huge surge in the cove. We were safely out of the way, but the small sail boat closer in the cove immediately abandoned their stern anchor and got out of there as soon as they could. We expected to be able to dive on our anchor and retrieve our anchor, unfortunately the weather never really cooperated and after several hours of searching in the churned up, low visibility waters, Mike also abandoned our anchor. Fortunately it was only our stern anchor, so we still have the main and since we are still in the US a replacement will be easy enough to find in San Diego. Just one of the costs of cruising!
|My aunt Kathy provided this picture of us leaving the Golden Gate|
(we are the very small speck on the right!)
After a week in the more rugged, desolate channel islands, we headed to Catalina and back to wifi and civilization. In Catalina we caught up on internet tasks; visas to Mexico, import permits, last minute parts ordering (new anchor). We enjoyed meals ashore, fantastic snorkeling, and stretching our legs on the beach.
We thoroughly enjoyed our almost two weeks in the Channel Islands. These islands are the remote playground for residents of Los Angeles. These remote, rugged, protected islands have something for everyone.